Most famous for its unbeatable views of Mount Fuji, Japan’s Fuji Five Lakes has a wealth of peaks, forests, caves and lakes to explore. Here are five local bars where you can unwind with a well-earned beer after – or during – a day of sightseeing in this picturesque region.
Fuji Five Lakes is a tranquil area just to the north of Mount Fuji, situated around the five pristine lakes from which it takes its name. At first glance, this peaceful town would suggest little in the way of nightlife; however, a closer look reveals tucked-away bars and pubs that are ideal for whiling away the evenings after a day of exploring. It’s located in Japan’s rural Yamanashi prefecture, which is enjoying growing fame as a producer of top-quality wines. Wine is not the only beverage on offer here, though. You can also find locally brewed beers, rare spirits and original cocktails, all served with the professional attention to detail Japanese hospitality is famous for. Here are Culture Trip’s top five recommendations.
Sip locally brewed craft beer at Sylvans microbrewery
This spacious and friendly pub has its own microbrewery on site, where it creates the Fujizakura Heights range of craft beer. Their brewers studied the art of beer-making in Germany, and now create their own unique, German-inspired beers. These include a light and hoppy lager, a fruity wheat beer, a smoked malt beer and a roasted caramel black beer. All their drinks are made using spring water from Mount Fuji, which is prized for its purity. There’s also an extensive food menu, picturesque gardens and a sun-filled conservatory. Plenty of parking is available, but if you’re drinking there’s also a free shuttle bus that takes you to and from Kawaguchiko station.
This speakeasy-style bar is hidden away above some restaurants just to the south of Lake Kawaguchi. Beneath its inconspicuous exterior, you’ll find a refined establishment with low lighting, a quiet atmosphere and professional service. Oscuro is stocked with a huge range of spirits that line the walls behind the bar, including some rare whiskeys and rums and a variety of expertly made cocktails are also available. The bar’s distinguished air and top-quality drinks make it the perfect place for a special night out. Just be aware that some of the drinks are expensive and there’s no price list, so check before ordering to avoid an unpleasant surprise when paying the bill.
This quirky little bar can be found just round the corner from Kawaguchiko station, and is dedicated to American ‘piano man’ Billy Joel. It has a huge cocktail menu, ranging from classics such as Martinis, Singapore Slings and Mai Tais, to the bar’s own original mixes – many of which are named after Billy Joel songs. Prices are reasonable at ¥600-900 (£4-6) a drink, and non-drinkers will be pleased to know that the non-alcoholic cocktail list is just as impressive. There’s also a substantial whiskey selection, plus a food menu consisting of bar snacks, homemade waffles and more substantial dishes like pasta and pizza.
Enjoy local drinks and good company at Dot Hostel and Bar
Courtesy of Dot Hostel and Bar
Dot is a cheap and cheerful hostel on the northern banks of Lake Kawaguchi, close to Oishi Park with its colourful flowers and stunning views of Mount Fuji. The clean, wood-panelled bar on the first floor is open to all visitors, not just people staying at the hostel. It offers a selection of local sake, beers and Yamanashi wines – all for a reasonable price – as well as light meals, savoury snacks and sweet treats. In addition to the drinks and nibbles, the bar also has board games and even occasional film screenings, making it an ideal place to mingle and meet fellow travellers.
This gorgeous rooftop bar sits above the Mizno Hotel, on Lake Kawaguchi’s eastern shore. Its perfect vantage point offers panoramic views over the water and across to Mount Fuji’s iconic silhouette. Combined with the soft music playing in the background, this gives the bar a wonderfully romantic atmosphere. There’s nothing quite so magical as sitting under the stars with the bar’s signature yuzu mojito cocktail in hand, gazing out at Fuji’s snow-capped peak as the sun slowly sets. And if you look closely, you might even be able to see the lights of hikers on clear nights during climbing season. Note that the bar is closed on rainy days and during the winter.